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Vincent Baron

Dominican theologian and preacher (1604-1674)

Baron, VINCENT, a Dominican theologian and preacher b. at Martres, in the department of the Haute-Garonne, France, May 17, 1604; d. in Paris, January 21 1674. At the age of seventeen he passed from the college of the Jesuits in Toulouse to the Dominican convent of St. Thomas in the same city. There he made his religious profession, May 16, 1622, completed his course in philosophy and theology, and taught these branches. As early as 1634 he was first professor in his convent and conventual doctor in the University of Toulouse. Rare erudition, depth of thought, and clearness of exposition earned for him the reputation of being one of the leading theologians of France. While discharging his professorial duties he delivered courses of Lenten sermons in the principal churches of Toulouse, Avignon, Bordeaux, and other cities of Southern France. Upon the invitation of the bishops of Languedoc he preached throughout their dioceses for ten years, reviving the faith of Catholics, elevating their morals and combating the errors of the Calvinists, with whose ministers he frequently joined in open debate, sometimes in their public synods. He published an abridgment of these controversies under the title “L’heresie convaincue” (Paris, 1668). Of his sermons to Catholic congregations we have only those preached at Paris in 1658 and 1659 (Paris, 1660), doctrinal discourses and panegyrics possessing much intellectual merit, composed in the forced style and manner of his age. In the pulpit Father Baron was always a teacher; but while intent upon forming the minds of his hearers he won their hearts by his disinterestedness, sincerity, and charity. From 1630 to 1659 he filled the office of prior in the convents of Toulouse (twice), Rhodez, Castres, Albi, Avignon, and in the general novitiate in Paris, always promoting the reforms in study and religious observance inaugurated by Sebastian Michaelis in the first years of the century In 1660, having declined the office of provincial in the Province of Toulouse, he was sent by the master-general of his order to make a canonical visitation of the Portuguese convents. On his return to Paris he devoted himself during the remaining fourteen years of his life to the composition of theological works.

His most important productions were written to satisfy the desire expressed by Pope Alexander VII to the Dominicans assembled in a general chapter at Rome in 1656, that they should publish a course in moral theology conformable to the doctrine of St. Thomas, and thus correct the laxity of morals encouraged by certain casuists. These works were: (I) “Theologix Moralis adv. laxiores probabilistas pars prior” (Paris, 1665); (2) “Manuductionis ad Moralem Theologiam pars altera” (Paris, 1665); (3) “Theologise moralis Summa bipartita” (Paris, 1667). In these works, while condemning opinions that seemed too lax, and censuring others that appeared to be too rigorous, he ably defended the system of Probabiliorism. With the famous critic Jean de Launoy he was long in controversy as to the “Summa Theologica” of St. Thomas Aquinas the authenticity of which he ably defended, although he did not demonstrate it, as later writers have done. The manuscript of a work entitled “Apologia pro sacra congregatione Indicis” having been published with alterations made by a stranger, which brought upon it the condemnation of the Sacred Congregation, he promised a new edition, which was embodied in his “SS. Augustini et Thom ae Vera et una mens de libertate humans,” (Paris, 1666). Another valuable work is his “Libri V apologetics pro religione, utthque theologia, moribus ac juribus Ord. Prad.” (Paris, 1666). At the time of his death he was engaged on a complete course in theology to be entitled “D. Thomas sui Interpres”. From this work, but half completed and never published, the one bearing the same title by Antoninus Massoulit, O.P., is entirely distinct.

ARTHUR L. MCMAHON


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